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The Sources of Anti-Slavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848

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The Sources of Anti-Slavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Sources of Anti-Slavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848

William M. Wiecek

272 Pages
Paperback
ISBN: 9781501726446
Cornell University Press

This ambitious book examines the constitutional and legal doctrines of the antislavery movement from the eve of the American Revolution to the Wilmot Proviso and the 1848 national elections. Relating political activity to constitutional thought, William M. Wiecek surveys the antislavery societies, the ideas of their individual members, and the actions of those opposed to slavery and its expansion into the territories. He shows that the idea of constitutionalism has popular origins and was not the exclusive creation of a caste of lawyers. In offering a sophisticated examination of both sides of the argument about slavery, he not only discusses court cases and statutes, but also considers a broad range of "extrajudicial" thought—political speeches and pamphlets, legislative debates and arguments.

Reviews

"The Sources of Anti-Slavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848 joins the multitude of important studies on law and slavery that have propitiously appeared in recent years and provides an essential overview, neatly tying ideas and events of the new nation to its colonial past. Wiecek is especially good at relating thinkers to their ever- evolving milieu."

- Donald M. Roper, William and Mary Quarterly

"William M. Wiecek’s thoughtful book, which examines the evolution of antislavery constitutionalism from the first Massachusetts freedom suit in 1760 to the end of the Mexican War, is a welcome contribution to the literature of American constitutional history and the antislavery movement."

- Kermit L. Hall, American Journal of Legal History

About the Author

William M. Wiecek is Professor Emeritus of History and Law at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is the author of The Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution (also from Cornell University Press), The Lost World of Classical Legal Thought, and Liberty Under Law and coauthor of American Legal History, Nuclear America, and Equal Justice Under Law.

This work can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes:

Creative Commons License
The Sources of Anti-Slavery Constitutionalism in America, 1760-1848 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.